quinta-feira, 27 de setembro de 2012

Gathering Momentum: Von Braun’s Work in the 1940s and 1950s by Ernst Stuhlinger

Wemher von Bmun at his desk in Peenemünde, winter 1943. Ordway Collection!Space Rocket Center.

Rocket Development at Peenemünde

    At the German army’s rocket center at Peenemünde, which had opened in 1937 with Wernher von Braun as technical director, rocket development and facility buildup proceeded quite smoothly until 1942. An island both geographically and in the security sense, the center’s isolation permitted top secret work to be carried out far from the bustle and turmoil of the rest of the country. Moreover, as an army installation, Peenemünde was virtually off limits to Nazi Party functionaries who routinely sought to penetrate all nonmilitary segments of public and private life.

    During the first two or three years after the beginning of World War II, Peenemünde remained relatively untouched by events swirling around the Third Reich. Hitler did not believe in rockets, and in any event he expected the war to be over before the A-4 could be developed into a weapon. It was only Army Ordnance’s protective shroud that allowed Peenemünde to exist, albeit with low priorities for material and other needs.

    As the months passed, it became clear that a gigantic effort would be needed to develop a large precision rocket, and that the full support of the armed services was indispensable. Von Braun, like most Germans at the time, did not envision a protracted war and was therefore confident that the A-4 would never be deployed in combat. Rather, he believed that military rockets would evolve primarily as defensive weapons and as deterrents to would-be aggressors. Eventually, reasoned von Braun, other rockets would be developed to carry instruments for Earth observations, for communications, and to undertake scientific studies of the upper atmosphere and space. Still further in the future, rockets would be designed to transport crews and passengers to stations in orbit around the Earth and on to the Moon and planets.
An unsuccessful launching of an A-4 at Peenemünde. The photograph shows the rocket in process of toppling to the ground, at which point it will violently explode. U.S. Army Ordway Collection Space Rocket Center.

    Although the pace of work at Peenemünde was always brisk, from time to time von Braun and his colleagues would gather privately to discuss such ambitious possibilities. (In February 1938, Peenemünde celebrated Mardi Gras under the motto “Mardi Gras on Mars”—there was a Martian goddess with her court who were visited by space- farers from Earth. White-bearded “Professor emeritus” von Braun informed one and all that he was the Vagrant Viking of Space making a short stopover on the red planet.)

An A-4 is successfully launched infield trials while another one, to the left, is being serviced. Ordway Collection!Space & Rocket Center.

The scene changed when the Luftwaffe began to lose the Battle of Britain in 1941. Urged on by armaments and munitions minister Albert Speer, Hider finally accorded Peenemünde top national priority. At the stroke of a pen, the center could now call on scarce manpower and materials needed to speed up development of the A-4. Technical work on its many components progressed to the point that by the spring of 1942 flight testing of complete missiles could begin. After two failures came success: on 3 October 1942 an A-4 soared into the skies, a perfect flight. Peenemünde’s commanding officer, General Walter Dornberger, was overjoyed but nevertheless cautious. “Today,” he told his colleagues, leagues, “the spaceship has been born! But I warn you: our headaches are by no means over, they are just beginning!”
Targed map of what British air inelligence termed the Experimental Rocket Projectile Establishment, located at Peenemünde. Ordway Collection Space Rocket Center

    The truth of this prediction became evident almost immediately. Many of the rocket components were still unreliable and needed improvements; and, as a result of the October launch success, Hitler’s representatives began to swarm all over Peenemünde demanding “immediate quantity production.” A special A-4 committee was established in Speer’s ministry and almost immediately began to draw up impossible-to-meet directives and production quotas.

    Speer had been in close contact with the Peenemünde organization since 1939. In his book Inside the Third Reich, he tells how impressed he was by what was going on there and how he continued to support research and development even “after Hider crossed the rocket project off his list of urgent undertakings.” Speer judged von Braun quite correcdy when he wrote: “For him and his team this was not the development of a weapon, but a step into the future of technology.” (1)

A photograph taken by the Royal Air Force on 20 May 1943 and issued in July of that year, showing installations at Peenemünde described as “Two large faaory workshops. ... It is believed that these buildings are intended for the manufacture and assembly of the rocket or firing apparatus.” Ordway Collection Space Rocket Center.  

    In spite of his protective support of Peenemünde’s programs and workers, Speer could not prevent Party officials from exerting influence over the expanding rocket research and development effort. In the summer of 1943, Reichsführer SS Heinrich Himmler visited the center to witness a test launching. For von Braun and Dornberger, the presence of the wily SS chief was a source of tension and concern, for they knew of his ambition to remove the A-4 from army control and place it under his own command. The launching proceeded well; but, after the rocket had reached an altitude of about 30 meters, it turned, tilted over, and hit the ground a few kilometers to the west. Himmler remarked drily: “I will go ahead now and order the production of ground weapons.” Dornberger and von Braun were prepared for such a mishap. Less than an hour after the accident, another A-4 stood on the launch table, tanked, checked out, and ready for firing. The launch and subsequent flight were perfect, achieving an impact accuracy of one quarter of one percent.
Aerial photograph of Test Stand 7 at Peenemünde, showing an A-4 rockeAet (A), two mobile service towers (B), and an assembly hangar (C). Ordway Collection Space Rocket Center.

Von Braun remarked that the potential of the A-4 was demonstrated by the second launch, while the first launch underscored the fact that much additional work was necessary before it could be released for production and deployment. Himmler replied that he would discuss the matter with the führer.

    A few weeks after Himmler’s visit, some 600 Royal Air Force bombers from bases in England hit Peenemünde with 1500 tons of bombs. While damage to technical installations was not excessive, over 700 men, women, and children lost their lives. After the raid, Hitler ordered A-4 production transferred from aboveground facilities to underground installations and authorized Himmler to oversee the changeover. With this, the SS achieved full authority over the production and delivery to the field of A-4 missiles.

Production Commences

    At Speer’s direction, a large mine complex under the Harz Mountains near Niedersachswerfen was selected and quickly transformed into a facility for the assembly of various weapon systems. Not only were A-4S assigned to the plant, which was known as the Mittelwerk, but also pulse-jet-powered buzz bombs, airplane and submarine parts, jet engines, and a number of small rocket and other armament systems. Himmler, who commanded the infamous network of concentration camps that housed dissident Germans, resistance fighters from occupied countries, Jews, prisoners transferred from jails, and others whom the Nazi government simply wished to put away, assigned forced laborers to the Mittelwerk.

Fort Bliss, Texas, where the German Project Paperclip specialists under Wernher von Braun were housed, as they arrived from Germany after World War II. Ordway Collection Space Rocket Center
Horrified at this prospect, Dornberger and von Braun tried to persuade Nazi officialdom to postpone production until the A-4 had matured into a proven, combat-ready weapon. Their efforts were to no avail. A ruthless SS general, Hans Kammler, was put in charge of camp laborers, many of whom toiled to enlarge Harz Mountain caverns to accommodate A-4 missile assembly operations. A third to a half of the A-4 labor force (a total of 6,000 to 8,000 men), consisted of camp workers; the rest were civilian employees.

    Peenemünde’s history during the war years has been told in books by Walter Dornberger, Dieter Huzel, Frederick I. Ordway III and Mitchell R. Sharpe, and several others. Dornberger, who had reluctantly accepted production orders dictated by Himmler and Kammler, soon found himself transferred from Peenemünde to an administrative position in Berlin. As for Wernher von Braun, he was accused of thinking only of spaceflight at the expense of the country’s war effort, arrested, and placed in a Gestapo jail in Stettin on Himmler’s orders. Only Speer’s personal intervention with Hitler permitted von Braun to leave jail two weeks later on probation.

    The unsuccessful attempt to assassinate Hitler on 20 July 1944 resulted in an even tighter SS grip on the A-4 program. Military deployment of the still- immature missile was ordered late that summer. The first A-4S, henceforth called V-2 “vengeance” or retaliation weapons, began falling on Paris and London in early September 1944. “When I heard about this,” von Braun commented later, “it was the darkest hour in my life.”
Major James P. Hamill (left), who was in charge of the German Paperclip team, and Wemher von Braun (right) at Fort Bliss, Texas,shortly after von Braun’s arrival in 194s. Ordway Collection Space Rocket Center.

    As Allied forces drove into Germany in the closing weeks of the war, von Braun was ordered by Himmler to evacuate Peenemünde and transfer several hundred of his teammates and crateloads of documentation to southern Bavaria. The SS chief apparently planned to use the rocket team as ransom to gain his own freedom, or else to make sure that no member fell into Allied hands alive. Fortunately, Dornberger and von Braun succeeded in outwitting his schemes; on 2 May 1945, they surrendered with a number of companions to United States ground troops.

    American intelligence officers, under the command of Colonel (later Major General) Holger N. Toftoy, interrogated von Braun and his associates and rounded up others who by war’s end had become dispersed all over Germany. A limited number, 127 in all, were offered contracts to continue their rocket work in the United States.

A New Beginning in Texas and New Mexico

    During the autumn and winter of 1945, these Peenemünders were brought to the United States under the code name “Project Paperclip” and sent to Fort Bliss, Texas, near El Paso. There, the army had established a Suboffice Rocket detachment that was located at first in a vacant barracks and later in an unused annex of the army’s Beaumont Hospital. In charge of the Paperclip specialists was Major James P. Hamill.

    Together with members of the U.S. Army and employees of the General Electric Company, the von Braun team began to assemble V-2 rockets from parts and components that American troops had retrieved from the Mittelwerk and elsewhere in Germany. Some essential parts were missing while others were found to be damaged beyond repair; rough handling during collection, packaging, and transportation by rail, ship, and truck from war-torn Germany had taken its toll. So, when the V-2S reached their destination at the White Sands Proving Ground in New Mexico, they had to be fitted with American-made replacement components. Over a period of about seven years, 70 complete V-2 rockets were assembled and brought to the launch table. Of these, 67 more or less successfully achieved their missions.
Wemher von Braun (right of center in front row, his left hand in his pocket) with his teammates at the White Sands Proving Ground, New Mexico, 1946. Ordway Collection Space Rocket Center.

    Under the prodding of Ernst H. Krause and several colleagues, scientists were invited from all over the country to suggest experiments and develop instruments to be sent aloft in V-2S to altitudes of more than 100 kilometers. Such an opportunity had never before existed anywhere. Among the scientists who responded were Herbert Friedman, Richard Tousey, Homer Newell, John Naugle, James A. Van Allen, and Jesse Greenstain. Within a few years, instrumented V-2S had shed new light on the upper atmosphere and borders of space and had made possible the discovery of solar X rays, measurements of the Sun’s far ultraviolet spectrum, clarification of the nature and origin of various layers of the ionosphere, and accurate measurements of atmospheric composition, temperature, density, and pressure.
Loading alcohol into a V-2 converted for upper atmosphere research at White Sands, 1946. U.S. Army/ Ordway Collection/Space Rocket Center.

    Beyond preparing and firing V-2S for upper atmosphere experiments, the former Peenemünders had relatively little to do. To their surprise and disappointment, they were not asked to work on new rocket development projects, so—on their own initiative—they began to make plans for a kind of supersonic cruise missile. The idea was for it to be launched to cruising altitude by a V-2 and then continue under ramjet power to its destination. Design work, supplemented by ground and flight testing, proceeded at a rather slow pace, with little interest exhibited on the part of the army. With time still on their hands, von Braun and his teammates began to pursue a variety of other self-generated projects and studies.

    Life in America meant a number of profound changes for the former Peenemünders. They were at last free to talk about their thoughts, and von Braun made immediate use of this freedom. On 16 January 1947, he gave a presentation to the El Paso Rotary Club entided “The Future Development of the Rocket,” describing first how a modern rocket works and then explaining Earth-orbiting satellites, manned stations in space, flights to the Moon, and expeditions to Mars. It was the first time in 10 years that von Braun could publicly express his spacefar- ing ideas, and his audience gave him a standing ovation.

Fort Bliss, Texas, where the German Project Paperclip specialists under Wemher von Braun were housed, as they arrived from Germany after World War II. Ord- way Collection!Space & Rocket Center. Wemher von Braun (right of center in front row, his left hand in his pocket) with his teammates at the works and then explaining Earth-orbiting satellites, manned stations in space, flights to the Moon, and expeditions to Mars. It was the first time in 10 years that von Braun could publicly express his spacefaring ideas, and his audience gave him a standing ovation.

   Von Braun used much of his spare time in Fort Bliss to write, in collaboration with several colleagues, a book entitled The Mars Project. Based on the most advanced knowledge of rocketry available at that time, the book described an expedition to the red planet. It contained technical and scientific details concerning propulsion, guidance, communications, life support and other systems, trajectories and celestial mechanics, the approach to and descent onto the target world, and the return to Earth.
Wemher von Bmun (center with hat) and key associates in front of a V-2 rocket at White Sands. U.S. Army/ Ordway Collection/Space Rocket Center.

    Knowing what we do about Mars today, a basic correction to von Braun’s scheme would be necessary. When he wrote his book, the atmospheric density on Mars was believed to be just over 8 percent of the density of Earth’s atmosphere at sea level. We now know that the Martian atmosphere is about ten times thinner than this. Therefore a landing craft on Mars could not, as he had suggested, rely on wings to land in glider fashion. Rather, retro- or counter-rockets would have to be employed to slow down the landing capsule as it approached the Martian surface.

    Admittedly an expedition to Mars would be a gigantic undertaking. Von Braun did not advocate, much less himself believe, that the huge launch rocket, the wheel-shaped space station, the Mars transfer vehicle, and the Mars landing and return craft he described could be built right away. His purpose was to show that a voyage to Mars from Earth would be possible based on reasonable extrapolations of late 1940s-early 1950s technologies. No mysterious new propulsion concepts nor still- unknown materials need be conceived and developed. “But,” he would caution his coworkers, “we should begin to work on all these components to make them better and more efficient, first theoretically, and then with experiments, tests, and pilot models. Eventually, all of these components will reach a status that makes an expedition to Mars possible within reasonable limits of magnitude, complexity, and cost.” (2)

Once The Mars Project had been published, first in Germany and then in the United States, von Braun stepped up the pace of his talks and lectures on rockets, satellites, and space travel. During the Fort Bliss and White Sands years, he came to the conclusion that developing rockets and making studies typified by his Mars project would not be sufficient if spaceflight were to be realized during his active lifetime. “Even if we continued our calculations until hell freezes over,” he once remarked, “we will not touch or move anybody. ... I will go public now, because this is where we have to sow our seeds for space exploration!” From then on, and for the next 25 years, von Braun grasped every opportunity, private and public, to talk and write about rockets and spaceflight. He addressed writers and publishers, educators and politicians, engineers and industrialists, scientists, economists, generals, and statesmen— the more prominent, the better!

The Move to Redstone

    In the autumn of 1949, the Korean War began to cast its shadow upon Fort Bliss. The Beaumont Hospital now needed its annex that accommodated von Braun and his teammates. General Toftoy soon found new quarters for them at the sprawling Redstone Arsenal near Huntsville, Alabama; during the late spring and summer of 1950, they all moved east. At about the same time, Army Ordnance assigned them a development project—a 200-mile (320- kilometer) guided missile capable of carrying a heavy nuclear warhead. Work on the new project began in 1950; first flight tests were carried out in 1953; and, by 1958, the missile, named Redstone, was handed over to the U.S. Army for deployment at strategic sites in Europe.

    As plans for the Redstone were being drawn up, von Braun quickly realized that the missile—if suitably modified—might be capable of orbiting a modest scientific satellite. By removing the hefty military payload, he reasoned, and substituting several upper  stages powered by clusters of small solid-propellant rockets, in theory at least the orbital objective should be attainable.

    Von Braun talked about his satellite concept to his associates and in 1954 wrote a paper on the subject addressed to his superiors in Army Ordnance. Little happened despite continued and persistent proposing, planning, arguing, and persuading. Then in early October 1957 the Soviet Union triumphantly orbited its first Sputnik and the race was on. Nearly four years after von Braun had proposed using his Redstone to launch a satellite, he got the go-ahead, and on 31 January 1958 Explorer 1 was sent aloft. America, too, joined the Space Age.

In Washington on 17 March 1954, von Braun meets with military, government, industrial leaders to discuss Project Orbiter. Although this early American satellte proposal was not ultimately accepted, it did pave the way for the later sucessful Redstone missile-launched Explorer series of artificial satellites. Frederick C. Durant III.
Several years after that remarkable event, the Red-stone had another opportunity to set a milestone in America’s spaceflight program. On 5 May 1961, the missile lofted the first American astronaut, Alan B. Shepard, along a ballistic trajectory that briefly arced into space.

    At about the time the Redstone missile was being readied for initial flight testing, Army Ordnance assigned another and more complex project to von Braun’s rocket team in Huntsville—the development of the Jupiter intermediate range ballistic missile to be capable of reaching targets more than 1,500 miles away. In spite of this challenging new assignment and a multitude of other activities, von Braun continued resolutely to reach out to the public with plans for satellites, space stations, flights to the Moon, and expeditions to Mars. Fortunately, he found enthusiastic and influential brothers-in-arms who helped carry the torch: Willy Ley, Heinz and Fritz Haber, Fred Whipple, Chesley Bonestell, Cornelius Ryan from Collier’s magazine, and the entertainment giant Walt Disney. During the early 1950s, the idea of spaceflight and space exploration began to expand dramatically.

For further reading

Collier, Basil. The Battle of the V-Weapon 1944-1945. Morey, Yorkshire, 1976: Elmfiel.
Collier, Basil. The Defence of the United Kingdom. London, 1957: Her Majesty’s Stationery Office.
Dornberger, Walter. V-2. New York, 1954: Viking. Expanded Ger-man edition published as Peenemünde: Die Geschichte der V-Waffen. Esslinger, 1981: Bechtle.
Huzel, Dieter K. Peenemünde to Canaveral. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, 1962: Prentice-Hall.
Irving, David. The Mare’s Nest. London, 1964: William Kimber.
Klee, Ernst, and Otto Merk. The Birth of the Missile. New York, 1964: Dutton. Kooy, J. M. J., and J. W. H. Uytenbogaart. Ballistics of the Future. Haarlem, Netherlands, 1946: N.V. de Technische Vitgeverij H. Stam; New York and London, 1946: McGraw-Hill.
Lasby, Clarence G. Project Paperclip. New York, 1971: Atheneum.
McGovern, James. Crossbow and Overcast. New York, 1964: Morrow.
Medaris, Major General J. B., with Arthur Gordon. Countdown for Decision. New York, 1960: G. P. Putnam’s Sons.
Middlebrook, Martin. The Peenemünde Raid: The Night of 17-18 August 1943. London, 1982: Allen Lane.
Newell, Homer E. Beyond the Atmosphere: Early Tears of Space Science. Washington, D.C., 1980: National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Ordway, Frederick I., Ill, and Mitchell R. Sharpe. The Rocket Team. New York, 1979: Thomas Y. Crowell; London, 1979: Heinemann; rpt. Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1982: MIT Press.
Speer, Albert. Inside the Third Reich: Memoirs. New York, 1970: Macmillan; and Infiltration. New York, 1981: Macmillan.
Stuhlinger, Ernst, and Frederick I. Ordway III. Wernher von Braun: Crusader for Space. Esslingen: Bechtle Verlag (in press).
Von Braun, Wernher. The Mars Project. Urbana, 1952: University of Illinois; rpt. 1991.
Von Braun, Wernher, and Frederick I. Ordway III. History of Rocketry and Space Travel. New York, 1966, 1969, and 1975: Thomas Y. Crowell. 4th ed. as Space Travel: A History, with Dave Dooling. New York, 1985: Harper & Row.


1. Speer, Albert, Inside the Third Reich: Memoirs (New York, 1970: Macmillan), p. 367.
2. Recollections of author from frequent discussions with von Braun in the late 1940s and early 1950s.

In: Blueprint for Space. Sicence Fiction to Science Fact. Edited by Frederik I. Ordway III and Randy Liebermann. prologue by Michael Collins. Epilogue by Arthur Clarke. Washington and London, Smithsonian Instituion Press, 1992, pp. 113-123.

domingo, 23 de setembro de 2012

Red Stars and Rocket Ships: Space Flight and the Cosmos in Early Soviet Culture by Scott W. Palmer

    With the launch of Sputnik, the first unmanned space mission, in 1957, and Vostok, the first manned vehicle to reach outer space, in 1961, Russia's pioneering postwar space program gained international recognition. The subsequent voyages of the Soyuz and Salyut spacecraft in the 1970s solidified Russia's leading role in space exploration. More recently, the space station Mir has dominated international news with reports, first, of its accomplishments as a research base and a testing lab for long-term habitation, and second, of its eventual abandonment. Few people recognize, however, that Soviet culture has sustained a longstanding interest in space dating back to the Bolshevik Revolution at the turn of the century.

The years surrounding the Bolshevik uprising of 1917 witnessed a rapid evolution in both the direction and content of Russian culture. The collapse of the Romanov dynasty and the ascension to power of the Bolshevik Party was accompanied by a torrent of social, political, and cultural experiments. At the same time that idealistic leaders of the young Soviet state worked to bring about the immediate transformation of Russia from a backward agrarian nation into a modern industrial state, leading Russian artists and writers sought to realize utopian experiments of their own. An important but little-known aspect of these experiments was the influential role of the cosmos and space flight in shaping contemporary visions of culture and the arts. Although space travel would not become a reality until the 1950s, depictions of space travel flourished as artists and writers used the cosmos to explore the utopian ideals of the early Soviet state.

Fig. 1 Yakov Protazanov, director. Aelita. 1924. Aelita, Queen of Mars, and Gor, Guardian of Energy, in the Tower of Radiant Energy, next to the telescope to Earth

    The origins of Soviet science fiction are conventionally traced to Alexander Bogdanov (1873-1928), a scientist, philosopher, and left-wing political activist who founded the socialist civic-religion of "god-building" in the years that followed the revolution of 1917. Schooled as a physician, Bogdanov proposed a future society organized according to the exact sciences. He elaborated these views in two of Russia's earliest science-fiction novels: Red Star (1908) and Engineer Menni (1912).

    Published nearly a decade before the Bolshevik seizure of power, Red Star provided readers with a utopian vision of communism seen through an imaginary account of life on Mars. (1) Combining his idiosyncratic view of science with a liberal dose of ideological didacticism, Bogdanov chronicled the experiences of the Bolshevik activist Leonid, who travels with a Martian companion, Menni, to the red planet. Disheartened by the social inequalities and political repression prevalent in contemporary czarist Russia, Leonid longs to discover a world in which the injustices of modern life have been resolved and peace and harmony reign. He realizes this dream on Mars, where he is treated to a vision of the future in which all social problems have been solved through the application of science and technology.

Fig. 2 Yakov Protazanov, director. Aelita. 1924. Queen Aelita of Mars in her Constructivist regalia

    In Bogdanov's Martian utopia there is no state, nor even a political system. Still, the inhabitants of the planet possess clothing made of synthetic materials, three-dimensional cinema, and a death ray. Martians reside in planned settlements bearing names such as the "City of Machines" and the "Children's Colony," where, in accordance with the Marxist vision of communism, free choice of labor and unlimited consumption are economic realities. Equality, collectivity, and the full emancipation of women are key features of Martian society. Moreover, scientific principles, rather than religion or philosophy, structure the outlook of the planet's inhabitants, and social discord has been resolved through the eradication of rank, deference, and all forms of coercion.

The drama of everyday life (once manifested in conflict between individual citizens) is realized by the ongoing collective struggle to master the natural world. To this end, technology provides the Martians with the essential weapons they require to tame the environment. Agricultural production is mechanized and the cultivation of the planet's red "socialist" vegetation provides ample food for its inhabitants.

    Red Star provoked a sympathetic response from contemporary Soviet readers. Although the novel predated Russia's communist takeover by almost a decade, it proved most popular after the revolution and was reprinted no fewer than five times. More important, the novel helped to inspire the emerging genre of Soviet science fiction, which, during the decade of the 1920s, witnessed the publication of some two hundred original literary works. (2)
Fig. 3 Installation view showing works by Kazimir Malevich in The Last Futurist Exhibition. 1915. The composition Black Square can be seen in the upper corner of the room

    Where Bogdanov's Red Star provided Soviet readers with an early literary glimpse into the possibilities of extraterrestrial life, the 1924 feature film Aelita (released in the West as Aelita: Queen of Mars) supplied Soviet audiences with their first visual images of a fictional cosmos (figs. 1, 2). Based upon a short story originally published by Aleksei Tolstoi, Aelita combined interest in outer space with the growing popularity of the new cinematic medium.

Directed by Yakov Protazanov (1881-1945), this silent film incorporated innovative set and costume designs derived from contemporary avant-garde styles to create an aesthetically arresting vision of life and politics on another planet. The film is now considered a classic of early Soviet cinema.

    Aelita recounts the cosmic exploits of the engineer Loss, who dreams of constructing a rocket ship that will take him to Mars. The film is composed of alternating scenes depicting simultaneous developments on Earth and in space. At home, the engineer suffers through an unhappy domestic life occasioned by frequent spats with his young wife. His marital relationship is further strained by the improper attention given to his spouse by a lecherous capitalist. To escape from his domestic turmoil. Loss immerses himself in the task of constructing a cosmic flying ship. Ultimately,

these efforts prove successful and the engineer travels to the red planet, where he encounters the beautiful Martian queen, Aelita. The two fall in love, but trouble soon ensues. Aelita is only a figurehead, controlled from behind the scenes by a cabal of court advisers.

Fig. 4 Ivan Kliun. Spherical Space. 1922. Oil on cardboard, 24 x 21 A* in. State Tret'iakov Gallery, Moscow, Gift of George Costakis

These intriguers oversee the oppression and exploitation of the great Martian proletariat, who are forced to labor like cogs in a machine for the benefit of the planet's ruling class. Upon discovering the desperate plight of the planet's laboring masses, Loss resolves to act. With the help of the queen, he foments a revolution that deposes the advisers and leads to the establishment of socialist harmony on Mars. Following the successful revolution. Loss awakens to find himself back on Earth. His encounter on Mars was only a dream. Stirred from his reverie, the engineer resolves to cast aside his fanciful space project and devote his time instead to repairing his relationship with his wife and contributing to the construction of Soviet society.


In  many respects, Aelita followed the formula earlier established by Red Star. Although the film was less overtly didactic than the Bogdanov novel, its central message concerning the triumph of the workers' revolution over the oppressive forces of capitalism placed it firmly within the canon of the early Soviet Republic's official art. Like many feature films produced during the 1920s, Aelita served dual purposes: it was intended to entertain audiences with visions of the cosmos while educating them about the need to develop political consciousness on Earth. (3)

    No discussion of space and early Soviet culture can omit Konstantin E. Tsiolkovsky (1857-1935). A secondary-and middle- school teacher from the provincial city of Riazan, Tsiolkovsky is known as the father of Russian astronautics for his important, early speculation on the nature and means of interstellar travel. Long before space flight was a practical reality, Tsiolkovsky wrote a number of farsighted theoretical essays that elucidated principles essential to rocketry.

Fig. 5 Boris Ender. Cosmic Landscape. 1923. Watercoloron paper, 7A x 6'A in. Collection Zoia Ender- Masettl, Rome

His 1903 essay "On the Exploration of the Cosmos by Means of a Reaction Propelled Apparatus," for example, formulated the basic equations necessary for jet-powered flight and accurately described the behavior of rockets in a zero-gravity environment. In addition to producing theoretical treatises and scientific sketches forecasting the possibility of space travel, Tsiolkovsky authored several short stories and literary works, including one of the Soviet period's earliest science-fiction novels. Outside the Earth (1920). (4) Although many of his stories were peppered with fantastic descriptions of imaginary extraterrestrial aliens, his scientific and fictional writings also provided prescient visions of the space age to come. Decades before space flight became a reality, Tsiolkovsky correctly described such fundamental concepts as the basics of jet propulsion and the physiological effects of weightlessness. He also forecasted such innovations as space suits, liquid fuel propellants, multistaged rockets, and the mechanics of atmospheric reentry.

Early Soviet images of space exploration and the cosmos were not, however, generated solely by writers and theoreticians. Throughout the 1920s, leading figures in culture and the arts found inspiration in the creative possibilities suggested by outer space and interstellar flight. In the years immediately surrounding the Bolshevik insurrection of 1917, the Russian art world underwent a revolution of its own that witnessed the emergence of eclectic artistic theories and schools such as Rayonism and Constructionism.

Initially influenced by the European movements of Cubism and Futurism (which rejected established pictorial conventions in favor of a new aesthetics based on movement, speed, and the reorientation of representational space), Russian avant-garde artists increasingly experimented with color, composition, and new materials in an attempt to break free of the static, two-dimensional world of canvas and paint.

In line with contemporary speculation on the potential nature of the extraterrestrial, many artists and designers incorporated cosmic elements into innovative compositions that challenged traditional notions of spatial relations and suggested the new forms and perspectives that would be experienced by future space travelers.

Fig. 6 Ivan Kudriashev. Trajectory of the Earth's Orbit around the Sun. 1926. Oil on canvas, 27 x 29  in. State Tret'iakov Gallery, Moscow

    Of all the new avant-garde artists who contemplated the cosmos, none was more important than Kazimir Malevich (1878-1935). The son of a factory worker, born near the Ukrainian city of Kiev, Malevich studied art at Moscow's College of Painting, Sculpture, and Construction before rising to prominence in the late 1910s as one of the most innovative and controversial of Russia's new breed of painters.

Influenced by such contrasting styles as Primitivism, Realism, and Cubism, Malevich soon developed his own experimental theories of art that centered on a concept he identified as "Suprematism." Intending to realize the final stage in the development of painting on canvas, Malevich envisioned Suprematism as a universal system of art that would generate new forms, textures, and colors through the unification of painting and architecture.

Ultimately, Suprematism exerted a considerable influence on art within Russia and throughout Europe. From its very inception, ruminations on the nature of space and the incorporation of cosmic aesthetics into composition and design were integral features of the movement. (5)

Fig. 7 ll'ya Chashnik. Design fora Supremolet. 1927. India ink and pencil on paper, 24 x 30 in. Courtesy Leonard Hutton Galleries, New York  

    The debut of Malevich's masterpiece Black Square at The Last Futurist Exhibition in December 1915 marked the beginning of Suprematism (fig. 3). Consisting of a large black quadrilateral set against a white background, Black Square was a complete, radical break with earlier artistic forms that ushered in the modern style of abstract, nonrepresentational painting. In stark contrast to traditional methods of representing space in a pictorial fashion (through the variation of objects or the employment of light and shadow).

Black Square utilized the sharp, simple counterpoint of black on white to concentrate space onto a single surface. In effect producing the impression of a spatial infinity opening up into unfathomable darkness, the composition intimated as well the deep void of the cosmos, a fact not lost on Malevich. Although Black Square met with mixed reviews by attendees of the exhibition, it soon came to serve as the iconic symbol of the emerging modern art movement.

    In addition to spearheading a revolution in artistic aesthetics, Malevich exerted considerable personal influence over the development of numerous Soviet artists. As the director of the State Institute for Artistic Culture in Leningrad from 1923 to 1926, Malevich was instrumental in training a new generation of Soviet painters and graphic designers, many of whom (including El Lissitzky and Nikolai Suetin) openly embraced and expanded upon his theories. Initially patterning their productions after the models established by Malevich, these artists gradually moved away from the absence of perspective that had initially characterized the Suprematist aesthetic towards the use of geometric shapes and the infusion of colors to communicate the sensation of movement through space.

     Painter Ivan Kliun (1873-1942) built upon Malevich's artistic theories. A self-taught artist and professor at the First State Free Art Workshops and Higher Artistic Technical Workshops (VKhUTEMAS) in Moscow during the late 1910s and early 1920s, Kliun was responsible for some of the earliest Suprematist works reflecting cosmic themes. His 1922 composition Spherical Space (fig. 4), for example, with its nebulaic qualities, hinting at luminous gases and particles of space dust, indicated the presence of a cosmic consciousness that was latent in the designs of many contemporary Russian avant-garde artists. In a similar fashion, Mikhail Plaksin's Planetary (1922) and Boris Ender's Cosmic Landscape (1923) intimated the Russian avant- garde's fascination with the extraterrestrial world (fig.5).

     If the visual representations depicted in the works of Kliun, Plaksin, and Ender hinted at the role of outer space in the imagination of Soviet artists, then the paintings of Ivan Kudriashev (1896— 1972) made explicit the importance of the cosmos in Soviet art of the 1920s. An artist and graphic designer who completed his education under the tutelage of Malevich, Kudriashev was keenly interested in the theories of cosmic flight developed by Tsiolkovsky.

A resident of Kaluga province, where Tsiolkovsky taught, Kudriashev had become personally acquainted with the obscure theoretician and corresponded with him for several years. These discussions clearly stimulated Kudriashev's imagination and provided inspiration for a number of innovative artistic creations.

Many of his compositions, including Cosmic Movement (1924) and Trajectory of the Earth's Orbit around the Sun (1926), attempted to serve as visual representations of Tsiolkovsky's scientific conceptions concerning the motion of astral spaces and the dynamics of interstellar light and color (fig. 6). (6)

    Notwithstanding his success in leading a revolution in Russian painterly aesthetics, Malevich came to realize that Suprematism had reached a creative terminus. Following the exhibition of his famous "white on white" series in 1918, Malevich withdrew from painting for nearly a decade to devote his energy to the production of what he called an "idealized architecture." Based upon the simple geometric forms that he had pioneered in his early paintings, Malevich's Suprematist architectural projects prefigured the emergence of a new style of architectural design and construction.
In much the same way that his nonobjective paintings represented an attempt to break free of the limitations imposed by the two-dimensional images produced by canvas and paint, Malevich's architectural experiments represented a reconceptualization of spatial relations that sought to liberate mankind for the possibility of space travel.

    Suprematist architecture was built upon the principles provided by a basic form that Malevich called the "architecton." A complex three-dimensional structure that was assembled by joining together smaller geometric subsections, architectons represented Malevich's attempt to fuse the practical concern of the need for living space with an innovative vision of the cosmos. Although these models were limited to two principal variants

(one horizontal, the other vertical) by the laws of gravity, Malevich nevertheless envisioned the future construction of extraterrestrial architectons that would provide earthlings with areas of habitation both within and upon the surfaces of these structures. The experimental form of the architecton was clear evidence of Malevich's continuing association of Suprematism with the coming conquest of space. As early as 1920, he went so far as to promote his Suprematist architectural models as the theoretical foundation for a future planetary satellite system, announcing that:

(Between the Earth and the Moon] a new Suprematist satellite can be constructed, equipped with every component, which will move along an orbit shaping its new track. Study of the Suprematist formula of movement leads us to conclude that the rectilinear motion towards any plane can only be achieved by the circling of intermediary satellites, which would provide a straight line of circles from one satellite to another. (7)


Although Malevich's ideas concerning orbiting space satellites produced no practical results, they did inspire a number of his contemporaries to take up the issue of architecture and design for space exploration. Following the lead of his mentor, Malevich, ll'ya Chashnik (1902-1929) devoted considerable time to a series of elaborate sketches of interstellar cities and spaceships.

Initially modeling his designs after Malevich's architectons, Chashnik ultimately developed a series of his own cosmic forms called "supremolets," which he incor-porated into nearly all of his artistic productions (fig. 7). "Supremolet," a linguistic derivative of the Russian word for airplane (samolet), may be roughly translated as "superflyer." More than just the fanciful dreams of a young Soviet artist, these models for space-age constructs bear an uncanny resemblance to modern spacecraft both real and imaginary. In this regard, they suggest the inherent link between the experimental aesthetics of early Soviet artists and the practical designs of contemporary spacecraft.

    Early Soviet images of the cosmos and space flight assumed a wide variety of forms. From the revolutionary propaganda of Alexander Bogdanov to the farsighted theories of Konstantin Tsiolkovsky and innovative aesthetics of Kazimir Malevich, political activists, scientists, and artists of differing backgrounds all found inspiration in dreams of outer space. Although these cosmic visions would disappear from public view in the late 1920s,
following the rise of Joseph Stalin and the onset of political repression, they remain lasting testaments to the creative impulses and utopian dreams of an earlier, imaginative era in Russia's turbulent history that would be reborn during the postwar period of the 1950s.


1. The novel is available in English translation as part of a three-tale collection that includes the novel's "prequel," Engineer Menni, and the short poem "A Martian Stranded on Earth." See Alexander Bogdanov, Red Star: The First Bolshevik Utopia, ed. Loren Graham and Richard Stites (Bloomington, Ind., 1984).
2. Richard Stites, "Fantasy and Revolution: Alexander Bogdanov and the Origins of Bolshevik Science Fiction," preface to Bogdanov, Red Star, p. 13.
3. For a discussion of the political-educational nature of Soviet cinema during the 1920s, see Peter Kenez, Cinema and Soviet Society, 1917-1953 (Cambridge, Mass., 1992).
4. Outside the Earth can be found in English translation in The Science Fiction of Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, ed. David Starchild (Seattle, Wa„ 1979).
5. For the best English-language treatment of Malevich's career and the place of cosmic themes in the development of Suprematism, see Larissa Zhadova, Malevich: Suprematism and Revolution in Russian Art, 1910-1930 (London, 1978).
6. Zhadova, Malevich, p. 129 (see n. 19).
7. K[azimir] Malevich, Suprematism, 34 risunka (Vitebsk, 1920), p. 2.

In: 2001: Building for Space Travel. Edit by John Zukowsky, Art Institute of Chicago, Museum of Flight (Seattle, Wash.), pp. 39-44.

quarta-feira, 19 de setembro de 2012

Dreams of Space Travel from Antiquity to Verne by Frederick I. Ordway III




Gustave Dove’s depiction of Lukian’s True History, in which a sailing ship carrying Greek athletes is lifted by a “most violent whirlwind” to the Moon. Ordway Collection Space & Rocket Center.

   We don’t know when the idea of flying into space first occurred to a human being. In the remote past a story-teller may have woven a tale of gods, or god­like men, soaring into the heavens. That they could attain such mysterious realms would surely have awed primitive listeners and set them to wondering about the lights in the skies above.

The concrete beginnings of the cosmic travel theme are not found in legends—though they may be based, in part at least, on legendary materials— but in the written literature. A fictional trip to an­other world could not be conceived until astronomy had given man some sort of notion of the universe and a tentative feeling for his approximate relation­ship to it.

Imaginative flights into the skies occurred long before Galileo Galilei’s early-seventeenth-century telescopic observations of the Moon and planets.
But they were flights of fantasy using the journey itself and the Moon as allegory. And the craft em­ployed were little different from routine contempo­rary modes of transportation: in one story, someone even walked to the Moon! For centuries, there was no particular reason to suppose that the Moon—or the planets, for that matter—were in any way “real” in the sense the Earth was. There was no more need to invent a special device to visit the lunar sphere than there was to visit Heaven or Mount Olympus. The Moon, like Heaven and Olympus, was suitable only as a setting for allegory.

Allegory or otherwise, a few visionaries suspected that the Moon, and perhaps the planets, might be visited and might even be populated. When this happened the stage was set for the appearance of the first works of space fiction.
If interpretations of astronomical observations and the development of imaginative literature did not advance along parallel tracks, they were at least dis­torted reflections of one another. The astronomical relationship between, for example, the Earth and Moon was for centuries believed to be such that a voyage between them would not entail severe hard­ships. To be sure, the precursors of latter-day space fiction writers had to stretch their sense of reality; but, seen in the context of their intellectual heritage, the solutions they proposed for heavenly travel were more plausible than they appear today.
   We know of no pre-Christian-Era work that devel­ops a tale wherein the hero departs from the Earth, makes a voyage, lands on another world, experiences adventures there, and returns—the minimum re­quirements of a proto-space fiction adventure. The arguments of Aristotle and other philosophers con­vinced most Greeks that there could be no Earth­like worlds in the universe; however, there were a few who suspected the Moon at least might be something like our planet. One was Plutarch (C. A.D. 46-120), who, in his De facie in orbe lunae (On the Face That Appears in the Orb of the Moon), countered that the Moon is similar to the Earth, though smaller, and is inhabited by a species of intelligent beings. The seed of space travel is seen in his view that before birth and after death souls may wander off to our satellite and gaze upon its mysteries. Plu­tarch suggested that the Moon shines by reflected sunlight and that it revolves around the Earth as the Earth revolves around the Sun—an opinion almost unique in his day.

Even before Plutarch, the Latin statesman and orator Marcus Tullius Cicero had written Somnium Scipionis (Scipio’s Dream), in which Scipio ponders the universe and the true insignificance of the Earth. He conjectured, “Below the Moon is nothing that is not mortal and perishable, except the minds given by the gods to the human race, and above the Moon all things are eternal.” Such ideas were stirring the imagination, paving the way for cosmic adventures.

Within half a century of Plutarch (around A.D. 165), the Syrian sophist and satirist Lukian (in Greek, Loukianos) of Samosata composed the Alethes historia, (commonly known by its Latin title Vera historia, in English True History). Here we find what is probably the first work of space fiction offer­ing the essential ingredients noted above: the trip, the landing, descriptions of and adventures on the world being visited, and, hopefully, the safe return.

Before commencing this tale of great adventure beyond the Pillars of Hercules, the author warns us that “I shall at least say one thing true, when I tell you that I lie, and shall hope to escape the general censure, by acknowledging that I mean to speak not a word of truth throughout.” We are told of bizarre adventures befalling a crew of 50 Greek athletes homeward bound in a sailing vessel. “About noon ... a most violent whirlwind arose, and carried the ship above three thousand stadia, lifting it up above the water, from whence it did not let us down again into the seas but kept us suspended in mid-air. In this manner we hung for seven days and nights, and on the eighth beheld a large tract of land, like an island, round, shining, and remarkably full of light; we got on shore, and found on examination that it was cultivated and full of inhabitants, though we could not then see any of them.” Called Hippogypi, they ride around on three-headed vultures adorned with feathers “bigger than the mast of a ship.”

Hundreds of years pass and there is no repetition of adventures such as this in world literature. People may occasionally dream of going to the Moon; they do not write about it. Then, in 1010, Firdausi’s great Persian epic poem Shãh-Nãma appeared following 40 years of labor. Among its 60,000 verses covering the legendary history of Persia are lines that tell of a marvelous flight into the heavens. The poem pre­serves ancient legends of which no earlier records exist:

The soul of that king was full of thought as to how he should rise into the air without wings.
He asked many questions of the learned as to how far it was from this Earth to the sphere of the Moon . . . 
Then he fetched four vigorous eagles and bound them firmly to the throne
   Kai-Kã’us seated himself on the throne having placed a goblet of wine in front of him.
When the swift eagles grew hungry they each of them hastened toward the meat [legs of lamb suspended from lances fastened to the side of the throne].
They raised up the throne from the face of the Earth; they lifted it up from the plain into the clouds.

    During medieval times in Europe there were no true tales of travel to other worlds as such, though dreams and fantasies involving roving spirits were fairly common. In the Italian poet Ludovico Ario­sto’s Orlando Furioso (1532), however, St. John the Evangelist proposes to Astolpho that he “a flight more daring take/To yonder Moon, that in its orbit rolls,/The nearest planet to our earthly poles.” So off Astolpho goes to the Moon in a chariot drawn by four red horses in quest of the lost mind of Or­lando. The mind turns up in a flask, but that is not all our lunar neighbor offers. “Swell’d like the Earth, and seem’d an Earth in size,” not only does it pos­sess most of the natural features of our world but cities, towns, and castles as well.

Statue of the great Persian poet and author of the Shah- Nama, Firdausi (A.D. 955-1025), a gift from the city of Teheran to the city of Rome. Ordway Collection Space & Rocket Center.

    Before Galileo, little was known of the Moon, and the planets were merely objects that move regularly across the skies. In fact, the word "planet" comes from the Greek word for "wanderer", which before Galileo’s time did not have the same significance that it has today.

Overnight, Galileo forever changed mankind’s view of the universe. The Moon, he explained in Sidereus nuncius (1610), “does not possess a smooth and polished surface, but one rough and uneven, and just like the face of the Earth itself, [and] is ev­erywhere full of vast protuberances, deep chasms, and sinuosities.” To be sure, many of the ancient Greek philosophers had speculated what the Moon might be like, but Galileo was the first to know: he had seen it with his own eyes through a telescope. He then turned his newly invented instrument on the planets. Jupiter, he discovered, was not a point of light like the other stars, but was instead a pale, golden globe with—miracle of miracles!—four tiny planets circling it.

   Eventually, Galileo was forced by the Church to recant his discoveries, his interpretations of them, and most important his support of the Copernican Sun-centered solar system. But the damage was done. When men looked skyward, they no longer saw abstract points of light; instead, they saw worlds comparable to their own. Not surprisingly, such dis­coveries inspired speculation that these new worlds might even be inhabited.
   Meanwhile another astronomer, no less a figure than Johannes Kepler, gave to civilization an unusual piece of literature that helped set a new tone to man’s yearnings to leave the Earth and explore what is beyond, inspired, he wrote a friend, by his translation of Lukian’s True History from Greek into Latin. Mathematician and science adviser to the Habsburg Emperor Rudolph II in Prague, Kepler began to consider voyages beyond the Earth in the very summer of 1609 during which his laws of plan­etary motion were printed. He communicated his ideas to Galileo in 1610 and talked of “celestial boats with golden sails” manned by “people who will not fear the vastness” of space. Kepler had to be careful about what he said, for his Lutheran church was as adamant about preserving an Earth-centered uni­verse as Galileo’s Catholic counterpart. Moreover, Habsburg political sensitivities had to be considered. Accordingly, Kepler wrote what he called his “lunar geography” in the form of fiction.

The Somnium (Dream) was composed as an alle­gory in 1609, footnoted between the early 1620s and 1630, and published in 1634 (four years after Kepler’s death). It is a strange work not only in itself but because it was written by a renowned astronomer, an unlikely author of such a fantastic tale. Somnium is about a voyage to the Moon couched in supernat­ural terms in which demons can, on occasion, carry humans from Earth (Volva) to the Moon (Levania). Kepler hoped that scholars might recognize in the word daemon a supposed relationship to the Greek daiein (to know), though philologically the relation­ship is not, in fact, correct. In any event, daemon, more commonly spelled demon, retained in Somnium its common meaning of evil spirit.

   It turns out that demons abhor sunlight but can travel during the night. Normaly, it is impossible for them to pass between the two worlds, but from time to time, when the shadow of the Earth intersects the Moon, they are able to cross.

The first two notes prepared by Kepler for his Somnium, which was published posthu-mously in 1634. In the first note he referred to the name Duracrotus (the book’s hero) and to the fact that “The sound of this word came to me from a recollection of names of a similar sound in the history of Scotland, a land that looks out over the Icelandic Ocean.” In the sec¬ond note he begins by explaining that Iceland, Duracrotus’s home, “means ‘land of ice1 in our German language. I saw in this truly remote island a place where I might sleep and dream and thus imitate the philosophers in this kind of writing. . . .” Ordway Collection Space & Rocket Center.

   And, under seldom-met conditions, these same de­mons transport humans, who, to prepare them for the journey through the vacuum of space, have been given an anesthetic potion (“sleeping draught”) and “moist sponges” held to the nostrils. Since the Moon is so far away (50,000 German miles—1 such mile equaling about 4.6 modern miles), Kepler wrote that “no sedentary persons are accepted into our company; no fat ones; no frail ones; we choose only those who have spent their lives on horseback . . . and are accustomed to eating . . . unpalatable food.” In short, a trip to the Moon was only for the well trained and hardy.

    Kepler further postulated that voyagers to the Moon “must . . . circulate aloft for several days in the cone of the Earth’s shadow in order that . . . [they] be on hand at the moment of the Moon’s entry into this shadow.” From then on, “The whole journey [to the Moon] is accomplished in the space of four hours.” Explained the allegorical demon, “On such a headlong dash we can take few companions—only those who are most respectful of us.”

   During the time that Galileo and those who fol­lowed him were sighting new worlds in the skies, others were finding new lands on the other side of the Adantic Ocean. Only a century had passed since Columbus had sailed for China, bumping instead into a new continent. Since then, John and Sebas­tian Cabot had explored the coasts of North Amer­ica for Britain while the Portuguese and Spanish had laid the groundwork for a vast empire in the south. Between 1519 and 1522, Ferdinand Magellan and Juan Sebastian del Cano had made their epic voyage around the now undoubtedly spherical Earth. By the time of Galileo, hundreds of ships and thousands of explorers, missionaries, colonists, soldiers, and ad­venturers had made the journey to amazingly rich and strange new lands. Not only did our planet har­bor unsuspected worlds; but, it seemed, skies were full of them, too.

    The situation was indeed bizarre. The new worlds of America, which could not be seen from Europe and whose existence relied on travelers’ tales and evocative maps, nevertheless could be visited by any­one possessing the funds, connections, and courage. But now there were other worlds in the skies visible to anyone. It was tantalizing to imagine that they— like the recendy discovered New World on Earth— might contain unknown civilizations and empires. Yet there was no apparent way to reach, explore, and perhaps even conquer them.

    Galileo’s discoveries, and those of astronomers who followed him (the rings of Saturn, that world’s giant moon Titan, the illusive markings on Mars, even a new planet, Uranus), influenced the evolu­tion of the idea of traveling in space. Since the Moon and planets were now known to be real worlds, it was no longer possible to think of them stricdy as metaphorical symbols.
The title page of the exceedingly rare first edition (1638) of Francis Godwin’s Man in the Moone: or a Discourse of a Voyage Thirther, which was written under the pseudonym Domingo Gonsalez. Ordway Collection Space & Rocket Discourse of a Voyage Center.

   It was one thing to speak of visiting a shining disk in the skies that, so far as anyone knew, might not possess solid, Earthlike attributes. It was now quite another thing to deal with the Moon or a planet as a tangible world with its own landscapes, scenery, perhaps even flora and fauna. To visit such real places, it was no longer sufficient to propose some miraculous happening like a chance whirlwind. If one were going to visit the Moon or planets, at least somewhat plausible transportation means had to be devised.

Seventeenth-Century Narratives of Space Travel

    The shape of things to come is seen in Francis Godwin’s charming story of Domingo Gonsales, the “Speedy Messenger,” The Man in the Moone: or a Discourse of a Voyage Thither (1638). Godwin (later a bishop in the Church of England) relied on bird power while offering such materialistic de­tails as the construction of harnesses, the frame­work that bound them together, and the velocity of ascent. Gonsales, a Spaniard of good but poor family, leaves his country to seek fortune overseas. Eventually, he ends up in the East Indies, where he does so well that he proudly sets sail for his native land. But on the way home he becomes so sick that he is taken off the ship and left, with his servant Diego, on St. Helena Island. As the adven­ture unfolds, we are alerted that we shall “have notice of a new world, of many rare and incredible secrets of Nature, that all the Philosophers of former ages could never so much as dreame of.”

    To escape from the island, our hero trains some young swanlike birds called gansas and yokes them to a mechanical device of his invention. After a short test flight, he instructs them to take him to another location on the island, but all does not go according to plan. The birds fly onward, carrying Gonsales to a strange land somewhere between the Earth and the Moon. There, “the Gansa’s began to bestir them- selues, still directing their course toward the Globe or body of the Moone,” speeding along at about “Fifty Leagues in every hower.” (Godwin estimated the Moon to be about 50,000 miles distant, a figure perhaps taken from Kepler and thus meaning Ger­man miles, and stated that the trip took some 11 days. Thus, he traveled about 4,545 miles a day or nearly 190 miles an hour. Since a league ranged from 2.4 to 4.6 statute miles, and since we don’t even know what kind of miles Godwin was thinking about, it is impossible to pin down the actual speed in modern terms.) 

    As the hard-flying birds carried Domingo Gonsales ever onward the Earth grew smaller, whereas "still on the contrary side of the Moone shewed her selfe more and more monstrously huge.” Then, “Af­ter Eleven daies passage in the violent flight, I per­ceived that we began to approach neare unto another earth, if I may so call it, being the Globe or very body of that starre which we call the Moone.” The rest of the book describes his adventures there and return to Earth.

    We cannot be harsh on Domingo Gonsales’s cre­ator, Bishop Godwin, from the safe vantage point of a later age, for his was a clear attempt to describe in detail a mechanical method of travel. During the years that followed, many writers, great, mediocre, and insignificant, were to imitate, in one way or an­other, the theme of Domingo Gonsales.

    One inspired by Gonsales was the Restoration poet, novelist, and playwright Aphra Behn, often considered to be the first Englishwoman to become a professional writer. Her 1687 play The Emperor of the Moon: A Farce enthusiastically brings forth mem­ories of the then half-century-old tale:

Doct. [Doctor Baliardo] That wondrous Ebula [a magic stone], which Gonzales had?
Char. [Don Charmante, one of the suitors to the Doctor’s daughter and niece] The same—by Vertue of which, all weight was taken from him, and then with ease the lofty Traveller flew ... to Olympus Top, from whence he had but one step to the Moon. Dizzy he grants he was.
Doct. No wonder, Sir, Oh happy great Gonzales'.

Godwin’s Domingo Gonsales en route to the Moon, carried aloft by trained swanlike birds called gansas. Ordway Collection Space & Rocket Center. 

The title page of Apbra Behn’s The Emperor of the Moon: A Farce (1687). The play was inspired in part by Godwin’s Man in the Moone. Ordway Collection Space & Rocket Center.

    In the same year as Godwin’s tale—1638—another and quite different kind of book was published in London. This one was by John Wilkins—also a fu­ture bishop—and, like many works of its era, had a long title: The Discovery of a World in the Moone; or, A Discourse Tending to Prove, that ’tis probable there may be another habitable World in that Planet. Unlike Godwin’s, Wilkins’s work was presented not as fic­tion but rather as a story based on scientific facts as they were then surmised (a half-century before New­ton published his Principia Mathematica with its laws of planetary motion).

    Wilkins was convinced that the main problem to be resolved for lunar travel was how to loft the flyer to that point between the Earth and Moon where the former’s influence ends. This point was believed to be not much farther “than that orb of thick va­porous air, that encompasseth the earth,” or about 20 miles. Once that altitude is attained—and Wilkins was convinced it could be quite easily—the rest be­comes simple. And since “our bodies will ... be de­void of gravity,” no efforts would be exerted and hence no food would be required en route to the Moon. Wrote Wilkins: “You will say there can be no sailing thither [to the Moon] . . . We have not now any Drake, or Columbus, to undertake this voyage, or any Daedalus to invent a conveyance through the air. I answer, though we have not, yet why may not succeeding times raise up some spirits as eminent for new attempts, and strange inventions, as any that were before them? ... I do seriously, and upon good grounds affirm it possible to make a flying-chariot.”

    The next major work of space fiction was by a Frenchman, none other than Savinien Cyrano de Bergerac. Wit, playwright, author, swordsman, phi­losopher, and satirist, he found time to write two “comical histories”: Histoire comique des États et Em­pires de la Lune (1656) and Histoire comique des États et Empires du Soleil (1662). The former appeared in English translation by Thomas St. Serf in 1659 and the two books together in 1687 by A. Lovell under the title The Comical History of the States and Empires of the Worlds of the Moon and Sun. Both books are parodies on the theme of travels to other worlds, and both enjoyed some credibility because their au­thor was aware of the latest advances in seventeenth- century science. Though his motive was in part to burlesque the concept, Cyrano felt constrained to limit himself to at least somewhat plausible methods of spaceflight. Knowledge of scientific discoveries was becoming increasingly diffused and it was no longer acceptable to rely solely on supernatural means to transport adventurers to the new worlds in the skies.

John Wilkins’s The Discov-ery of a World in the Moone . . . was published in the same year as Godwin’s fantasy but was quite different in approach. As its subtitle indicates, Wilkins inquired as to whether there might be “another habitable World in that Planet.” Ordway Collection Space & Rocket Center.

   Cyrano carefully explains his attempts to reach the Moon. Knowing that the Sun “draws” dew upward at dawn, he surrounds his waist with vials filled with the liquid. The idea works: the Sun causes the dew to rise, vials, Cyrano, and all, “above the middle Region of the Air.” Lest his speed be so great that he might bypass the Moon altogether, he breaks several vials “until I found my weight exceed the force of the Attraction.” But he breaks too many vials, the Earth’s attraction dominates that of the Moon, and he ends up in New-France—French-speaking Canada.

    So he tries again, constructing a machine “which I fancied might carry me as high as I pleased, so that nothing seeming to be wanting to it, I placed my self within, and from the Top of a Rock threw my self in the Air. But because I had not taken my mea­sures aright, I fell with a sosh in the Valley below.” To relieve the bruises resulting from his fall, he anoints himself with beef marrow from head to foot. Meanwhile, some soldiers have attached fireworks to his machine and are about to light them when Cyrano arrives. “I was so transported with Grief,” he exclaims, “to find the work of my Hands in so great Peril, that I ran to the Soldier that was giving Fire to it.” But he is too late, for “hardly were both my Feet within [the machine], when whip, away went I up in a Cloud.” At some point, the firework rockets burn out—“all the combustible Matter being spent”—and the machine falls back to Earth. But Cyrano continues onward, for it seems that when the Moon is in the wane, it sucks up the marrow of animals: “she drank up that wherewith I was an- nointed, with so much more force, that her Globe was nearer to me, that no interposition of Clouds weakened her Attraction.” Soon Cyrano reaches the Moon, landing in a tree.  
In this rendering from a 1710 edition of Cyrano de Bergerac’s lunar tale, an attempt is made to use rocket power to reach the Moon. The attempt fails, and. the device falls back to Earth. Ordway Collection Space & Rocket Center.

   After a lengthy sojourn on the Moon, Cyrano re­turns safely to Earth in a day and a half, carried by a whirlwind. Exhilarated by his triumphs, he sets out to build a flying device to take him to the more dis­tant Sun. Soon, he has fashioned a telephone-booth­shaped device in the roof of which he places a large crystal icosahedron, each facet being a lens. The sun­light focused within the icosahedron by the lenses heats the interior, creating a vacuum. The air that rushes into the bottom of the car, to fill the void, carries the car with Cyrano aboard upward with it.

For his part, Wilkins inspired the Italian artist Filippo Morghen to prepare a series of fanciful drawings of what it might be like on the Moon. This is no. 6 in a series published in Naples in 1764. Ordway Collection Space & Rocket Center.
He quickly passes the Moon and other bodies, “sometimes on the right, and sometimes on the left, several Earths like ours.” Eventually the air becomes so rarefied that his flying machine starts to fall back toward Earth. But Cyrano continues onward by sheer willpower; 22 months later, “I at length hap­pily arrived at the great plains of Day” whose land­scape appeared “like flakes of burning Snow, so luminous it was.”

   Story after story followed, but most were varia­tions on themes developed earlier. A major event occurred in 1686 when Bernard de Fontenelle pub­lished a popular astronomy book called Entretiens sur la plumlite des mondes (Conversations on the Plu­rality of Worlds). It was read and translated widely throughout Europe, partly because of its style but largely because of its fascinating speculations on the nature and habitability of the worlds in the solar system. Fontenelle tells us that each known planet has its own race of people and something of their appearance, civilization, and habits. Oddly enough, he was not convinced of the Moon’s habitability be­cause the air there was probably too rarefied. More­over, relatively little attention was given to Mars, compared with such unlikely (to us) abodes of life as Mercury and Jupiter.

   Four years after Fontenelle’s book came Gabriel Daniel’s Voyage du monde de Descartes (A Voyage to the World of Cartesius), a novel that broke with the incipient trend toward natural methods of attaining the Moon and introduced the idea of soul or thought travel. The hero’s soul separates from the body and soars out to the globe of the Moon and the universe beyond, finding, among many mysteries, the great master “Monsieur Descartes.” The Moon is described in some detail and is found to be not unlike the Earth.

   In 1698, the renowned scientist Christian Huygens wrote Cosmotheoros, sive de Terris coelestibus earumque omatu conjecturae (translated as Cosmotheoros: or Con­jectures Concerning the Planetary Worlds and as The Celestial Worlds Discover’d: or Conjectures Concerning the Inhabitants, Plants, and Productions of the Worlds in the Planets). No space voyage is described; rather, the author speculates on the habitability of worlds and concludes them to be abodes of rational beings. He sees no hope of visiting other worlds, so “we must be contented with what’s in our Power: we must suppose ourselves there.” Throughout the seven­teenth century we find almost universal agreement that the planets are inhabited. The principal variable is the means chosen to visit them, whether birds, wings attached to humans, dew, magnetic attraction, the projection of disembodied thoughts, or “just supposing.”

Eighteenth-Century Precursors of Space Fiction

    With the publication of David Russen’s Iter Lunare: or Voyage to the Moon in 1703 we find a curious Moon-spring device being employed. “Since Spring­iness is a cause of forcible motion, and a Spring will, when bended and let loose, extend itself to its length,” Russen speculated that a spring of well- tempered steel could be fashioned “wherein a Man, with other necessaries, could abide with safety, this Spring being with Cords, Pullies, or other Engins bent and then let loose by degrees by those who manage the Pullies, the other end would reach the Moon, where the Person ascended landing, might continue there.”

   Two years after Iter Lunare appeared Daniel De­foe’s The Consolidator, another tale of lunar travel. In it, we are told how ancient peoples mastered the art of flying to and from the Moon, and how Mira-cho- cho-lasmo came to Earth to visit the emperor of China. Defoe reviews many legends of flights to the Moon and of several types of what today we would call spaceships. Probably the most intriguing is an engine known as the Consolidator, constructed “in the shape of a Chariot, on the backs of two vast Bodies with extended Wings, which spread about fifty yards in breadth, composed of Feathers so nicely put together, that no air could pass; and as the Bodies were made of lunar earth, which would bear the Fire, the Cavities were filled with an ambi­ent flame, which fed on a certain spirit, deposited in a proper quantity to last out the Voyage; and this Fire so ordered as to move about such springs and wheels as kept the wings in most exact and regular Motion.” We cannot fathom what sort of propellant Defoe was thinking of, but he did offer a more technical-sounding approach to space travel than other writers of his time.
Daniel Defoe’s anonymously published The Consolidator describes a strange spaceship propelled by a “certain spirit.” Ordway Collection Space & Rocket Center

   Authors are now beginning to provide ever more details: numbers, distances, speeds, construction methods and materials, and the like. But by the time pseudonymous Samuel Brunt’s A Voyage to Cacklogallinia (1727) and Murtagh McDermot’s A Trip to the Moon (1728) appear, we find the lunar world once again, albeit temporarily, being reached by well-tried bird and whirlwind methods. Brunt’s tale was inspired in part by Godwin and in part by spec­ulative fever related to the early-eighteenth-century “South Sea Bubble” scandal involving the South Sea Company and English trade with the Spanish West Indies. Brunt decided to invent his own speculative enterprise, one that would offer great economic re­ward with minimal risk: the hunt for gold on the Moon. After many and varied adventures, Brunt finds himself on a remote island inhabited by an in­telligent race of bird people. From there, he and his new Cacklogallinian friend Volatilio set off for the lunar world “with incredible swiftness” in a palan­quin lofted by other Cacklogallinians. But the voy­age nevertheless takes time: “We were about a Month before we came into the Attraction of the Moon, in all which none of us had the least inclina­tion to Sleep, or Eat, or found our selves any way fatigued, nor, till we reach’d that Planet, did we close our Eyes.” While they do find gold on the Moon, the local inhabitants refuse to part with it and the trip is an economic failure.

    McDermot’s tale tells of a visit to the Canaries during which he ascends the Peak of Teneriffe. While resting at the summit and meditating “on my own corrupt Nature, a sudden Whirlwind came, that rais’d me from the Place I stood on.”Up, up, up he is carried, “so that I was quickly remov’d into the Sphere of the Moon’s Attraction, more than I in­tended, for two thirds of my Body being attracted by the Moon, the rest soon follow’d, so that I was carried with incredible swiftness, which still increas’d in my fall towards that Planet.” That fall led McDer- mot directly into “a Fish-pond, which our sharp- sighted Philosophers mistake for a Part of the Sea, and call it Sinus Rorum ... It is call’d in the Lan­guage of the Moon Brugg Quqns because it belongs to the King of Quqns.” The return required considerable ingenuity on McDermot’s part.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Like Godwin nearly a century earlier, the pseudonymous Samuel Brunt chose bird power in his A Voyage to Cacklogallinia (1727), of which the frontispiece is illustrated here. Ordway Collection Space & Rocket Center.

Convenient whirlwinds will no longer do, so “Gun-Powder” is called into play. Knowing that it “will raise a Ball of any Weight to any Height: Now I design to place myself in the Middle of ten wooden Vessels, placed one within another, with the Outermost strongly hooped with Iron, to prevent its breaking.” In the tradition of Godwin and Defoe, details flow: an un­specified amount of gunpowder is not enough; it has to be pointed out that there are exactly 7,000 barrels of it. Nor can McDermot gloss over his land­ing back on Earth: his fall must be abated by wings during the final descent. 
Rather tame compared to McDermot but worked out in almost painful detail is Ralph Morris’s 1751 novel A Narrative of the Life and Astonishing Adven­tures of John Daniel. With his son Jacob, the hero finds himself stranded on a faraway island with no way to return home. Together they construct a de­vice from materials salvaged from a shipwreck and made to fly by pump-operated calico cloth wings supported by iron ribs—as the pump goes up anddown, so do the wings. So efficiendy does the de­vice work that the adventurers land not on some civilized country on Earth but—of course—on the Moon.
In developing his tale of spaceflights, the French philosophe François Marie Arouet de Voltaire had a rather different objective in mind. He broke with the trend of offering at least quasi-technical explanations as to how space travelers reach their destinations, using his Micromégas (1752) to satirize man’s pompos­ity and the widespread belief of his importance in the universe. First of all, Voltaire does not start his tale here on Earth, as virtually all previous writers had done, or even in the solar system, but on giant Sirius. Because of the star’s size, Sirians are logically enormous, our hero Micromégas standing 120,000 royal feet high! A precocious lad only 250 years old, he has mastered geometry and is busily studying and writing about the possibility of life on other worlds. Convicted for heretical beliefs, he is banished for a mere 800 years, a sentence Micromégas puts to good use. Instead of moping in some distant realm of his own world, he decides to explore the universe. Using sunbeams, comets, and a sure knowledge of gravita­tion, he easily travels from star to star across the Milky Way to our solar system.

Upon arrival, Micromégas strikes up a warm rela­tionship with the Secretary of the Grand Academy of Saturn, and the two argue about, and philoso­phize on, all manner of subjects. Finally they decide together to visit the rest of the solar system, flying first to the rings and moons of Saturn, then to Jupi­ter and Mars. Helpful comets are used, an imagina­tive new transportation means that had not occurred to earlier and more serious space writers. Finally, and inevitably, Earth is reached, a tiny world the Sirian and Saturnian are certain is uninhabited. But events cause Micromégas to peer lazily through one of a chain of diamonds hanging around his neck. The microscopic effect shows a whale to be swim­ming through an ocean he had considered a mere puddle. Then a ship carrying polar explorers leaps into view. Reluctantly, Micromégas acknowledges that even so insignificant a world as Earth can har­bor intelligent creatures.

 A ladder may sound like a particularly absurd way to get to the Moon, but that is how it is done in the mid-eighteenth-century booklet Man in the Moon, probably composed by Miles Wilson, an English curate. In a longer book published in 1757, The His­tory of Israel Jobson, the Wandering Jew, the hero chooses an easier way: the chariot, a well-proven device of cosmic fiction. 

Louis Guillaume de La Follie’s “electrical” flying device, which was described in his 177s work Le Philosophe sans prétension, ou l`homme rare... (The Unpretentious Philosopher, or the Unusual Man). Ordway Collection Space & Rocket Center.

Some of the characteristics of the modern science fiction novel appeared in a 1775 French work by Louis Guillaume de La Follie, Le philosophe sans pré­tention. A strange tale unfolds of a Mercurian who arrives on Earth and relates his adventures to one Nadir, an Oriental. It seems that on the planet Mer­cury an inventor named Scintilla had created a mar­velous flying chariot powered by electricity. Amid scorn and ridicule, he proved that his invention would work in an amazing test flight witnessed by members of the Academy. This unleashes a series of events that leads to Mercury’s first spaceflight. Though doubting the practicality of the invention, a colleague named Ormisais nevertheless tries it out and, to his great surprise, the device functions after all. So he flies away to Earth in Scintilla’s electric chariot and, after a fairly standard trip, crash-lands on our world.
By the time we approach the nineteenth century, scientific knowledge had advanced to the point that fiction writers had to take increasing cognizance of reality. In 1783, the man-carrying balloon was in­vented by the Montgolfier brothers in France. By then, also, the industrial revolution was getting un­der way in England. Whether a blessing or a curse, science and engineering were an ever-growing factor in everyday life. Between 1750 and 1810, steam en­gines, spinning jennys, circular saws, power looms, bicycles, lightning rods, cotton gins, electric batter­ies, and other inventions had appeared. The chang­ing intellectual environment brought about by such progress understandably influenced writers, resulting in the disappearance of some of the romance of ear­lier tales of space travel. More and more often, at­tention was focused on the scientific and technical aspects of lunar and planetary voyages, though once on the target world the hero could do, find, and re­port whatever pleased the author’s fancy.

 Take Joseph Atterley’s A Voyage to the Moon with some Account of the Manners and Customs, Science and Philosophy of the People ofMorosofia and other Lunari­ans, published in 1827. The author (actually Univer­sity of Virginia professor George Tucker) described a modern-sounding device: “The machine in which we proposed to embark, was a copper vessel, that could have been an exact cube of six feet, if the cor­ners and edges had not been rounded off. It had an opening large enough to receive our bodies, which was closed by double sliding pannels, with quilted cloth between them.” A metal called lunarium served to “overcome the weight of the machine, as well as its contents, and take us to the moon.” We have here the anti-gravity concept that would become popular during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, even though it had no more scientific credibility than tethered fowl. Still, it exuded an aura of science, and that had become important.

Eight years later, Edgar Allan Poe—who, inciden­tally, had been a student under Professor Tucker and was certainly influenced by him—sent the character of “The Unparalleled Adventure of One Hans Pfaall” on a lunar trip in a homemade balloon. The hero’s reasons for going to the Moon are neither romantic nor commendable: Hans was heavily in debt, and to him the logical escape from creditors was to hide on the Moon. Poe’s description of the Earth as seen from space was surprisingly accurate, evidence of his concern in establishing scientific credibility for his fiction. Interestingly, his balloon and sealed gondola bear striking resemblance to the stratosphere balloons of the 1930s. 

At about the same time, Richard Adams Locke was busily populating that same body with all man­ner of creatures supposedly observed by Sir John Herschel through a telescope mounted in South Af­rica. What came to be known as the “Moon-Hoax” was published as supposedly serious astronomy in the form of installments in the New York Sun during late August 1835. The story enjoyed a large readership and, being presented as fact, was received as fact. Part of the reason it was so accepted was its original title, Great Astronomical Discoveries Lately Made by Sir John Herschel, LL.D., F.R.S., etc. At the Cape of Good Hope; it purported to record facts submitted by Sir John to the august, but (unknown to most) defunct, Edinburgh Journal of Science. One suspects that the skill of the author had something to do with the suc­cess of the hoax, as undoubtedly did the tenor of an epoch when the public was ready to believe almost anything reported as science. In due course the story was found to be a hoax, much to the amusement, or indignation, of the public.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  One of a series of imaginary drawings published by F. Wenzel in Naples in 1836. Inspired by Richard Adams Locke’s Moon Hoax,” which had appeared in installments in the New York Sun in August 183s, it purported to describe discoveries of lunar life made at the Cape of Good Hope by astronomer Sir John Herschel. Ordway Collection Space & Rocket Center.

A generation later the Frenchman Achille Eyraud wrote a modest work, Voyage a Venus (1865), con­taining a description of a spaceship powered by the reaction principle. The scheme would not actually have worked, for Eyraud proposed ejecting water as the reaction mass, to be gathered in a container and then recirculated for further use. But the appearance of the book was an important first in that the role of reaction in space travel had finally been recognized in the fictional literature.1 

With Eyraud and his Venus spaceship we have reached the year of the publication of Jules Verne’s seminal De la Terre a la Lune (From the Earth to the Moon). How this story, along with its 1870 sequel Autour de la Lune (Round the Moon), influenced the future of space fiction and space fact is the subject of the chapter that follows. 


1. The relevant passage states: “There exists, moreover, a motor that borrows no force from the surrounding environment, one that is based on the difference in pressures that act on the interior walls of a body and of which you have frequendy been able to observe the re¬sults in the air. . . . How many times have you not seen raise themselves into the air, not like balloons because of their relative lightness, but because of an internal impulse, these objects, brilliant signs of popular festivities, that illuminate our holidays in all countries, and for all governments: flying rockets?” 

For further reading

 Anderson, George K. The Legend of the Wandering Jew. Providence, 1965: Brown University Press. 
Bailey, J. O. Pilgrims through Space and Time. New York, 1947: Argus Books. 
Boia, Lucien. L’Exploration imaginaire de l’espace. Paris, 1987: Editions La Découverte.
Crowe, Michael J. The Extraterrestrial Life Debate 1750-1900: The Idea of a Plurality of Worlds from Kant to Lowell. Cambridge, 1986: Cambridge University Press. 
Derleth, August, ed. Beyond Time and Space. New York, 1950: Pellegrini & Cudahy. 
Dick, Steven J. Plurality of Worlds: The Origins of the Extraterrestrial Life Debate from Democritus to Kant. Cambridge, 1982: Cambridge University Press. Freedman, Russell. 2000 Tears of Space Travel. New York, 1963: Holiday House. 
Gunn, James. Alternate Worlds: The Illustrated History of Science Fiction. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, 1975: Prentice-Hall. 
Guthke, Karl S. The Last Frontier: Imagining Other Worlds, from the Copemican Revolution to Modem Science Fiction. Ithaca, New York, 1990: Cornell University Press. 
Lear, John. Kepler’s Dream. Trans. Patricia Frueh Kirkwood. Berkeley and Los Angeles, 1965: University of California Press. 
Leighton, Peter. Moon Travellers. London, 1960: Oldbournc. 
Locke, Richard Adams. The Moon Hoax. Boston, 1975: Gregg Press.
Meadows, A. J. The High Firmament: A Survey of Astronomy in English Literature. Leicester, 1969: Leicester University Press.
Moskowitz, Sam. Explorers of the Infinite. Cleveland, 1963: World; rpt. Westport, Connecticut, 1974: Hyperion. 
Moskowitz, Sam, ed. Masterpieces of Science Fiction. Cleveland, 1966: World; rpt. Westport, Connecticut, 1974: Hyperion. 
Nicolson, Marjorie. Voyages to the Moon. New York, 1948: Mac-millan. 
Philmus, Robert M. Into the Unknown: The Evolution of Science Fiction from Francis Godwin to H. G. Wells. Berkeley and Los Angeles, 1970: University of California Press. 
Pizor, Faith K., and T. Allan Comp, eds. The Man in the Moone and Other Lunar Fantasies. New York, 1971: Praeger. 
Rosen, Edward, trans. and commentary. Kepler’s Somnium: The Dream, or Posthumous Work on Lunar Astronomy. Madison, 1967: University of Wisconsin Press. 
Russen, David. Iter Lunare. Introduction by Man' Elizabeth Bowen. Boston, 1976: Gregg Press. 
Tucker, George (pseudonym Joseph Atterley). A Voyage to the Moon. Preface by David G. Hartwell. Boston, 1975: Gregg Press. 
Versins, Pierre. Encyclopédie de l’utopie des voyages extraordinaires et de la science fiction. Lausanne, 1972: Editions L’Age d’Homme. 
Von Braun, Wernher, Frederick I. Ordway III, and Dave Dooling. Space Travel: A History (4th ed. of the von Braun-Ordway History of Rocketry and Space Travel). New York, 1985: Harper & Row. 
Wright, Hamilton, and Helen Wright, eds. To the Moon! New York, 1968: Meredith. 

In: Blueprint for Space. Sicence Fiction to Science Fact. Edited by Frederik I. Ordway III and Randy Liebermann. prologue by Michael Collins. Epilogue by Arthur Clarke. Washington and London, Smithsonian Instituion Press, 1992, pp. 35-48.